Our beloved pets deserve high-quality foods that are nutritious and healthy. It may seem like pet food is pet food, but not all pet foods are made equally. With so many dog food brands out there, it can difficult for pet owners to make decisions. But fret not – we’ve compiled a list of pet food trends and diets that are currently popular to help you make some choices.
- The “Grain-Inclusive” Diet
The “grain-inclusive” diet refers to traditional dog foods – which contain corn, soy, rice, wheat, barley or oatmeal. Grain by-products such as rice bran, soy hulls and corn bran are commonly used as fillers in commercial dog foods as they make the process of production inexpensive. These grain products offer very little nutritional value and also create spike in dogs' sugar levels.
However, high-quality whole grains such as brown rice, oats and teff can bring valuable nutrients to dogs if they are present in the pet food in a smaller amount. Whole grains, which contain all parts of the plant, are good for dogs, according to petMD. The issue with grains often comes in when it is of the bad quality and wrong quantity. Many commercial dog foods on the market are made with highly-processed grains - which means our canine friends may miss out on the nutritional benefits of whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice. If you see ingredients such as "rice hulls", "oat bran", "soybean mill run", "wheat middlings" in the ingredient list of a dog food, you are dealing with a brand that uses grain fractions.
Keep in mind that grains should never be the first ingredient in pet foods. Dogs that are inactive may benefit from a grain-inclusive dog food. However, dogs with stomach sensitivities have difficulty digesting the grains. In addition, grains can be the cause of some common health problems in dogs such as skin irritations and ear infections.
- Grain Free
Feeding grain free diet is a great way to avoid food allergies. Grain free dog foods are usually higher in proteins and they can provide sustainable energy to active dogs. It’s also highly recommended for dogs with skin allergies and stomach sensitivities. Grain can be the cause of some health problems including digestive issues, skin irritations and ear infections.
If you feed grain-free meals to your dog, you can (and should) find healthy alternatives to grain to ensure that he still gets his recommended nutritional percentage of carbohydrates with every serving. Potatoes and sweet potatoes, for example, are not grains, but they are an excellent source of carbs and fiber for dogs. Peas, lentils, and beans are other possible choices for the grain-free pooch.
- High Protein Diets
High protein diet sounds like a great thing. Many dog owners love the idea of feeding their four-legged friends like a carnivore. High-protein dog diet is generally lower in carbohydrates, which is great since dogs don’t need carbohydrates as a part of a healthy, balanced diet. Although there are several benefits for feeding our dogs a high protein diet, it is not right for every dog as dogs require different protein levels at different life stages. In general, active dogs should require 25% or higher protein from food, while puppies require 28% protein, according to Chewy.
- Low Protein
If you have a dog with renal disease or who suffers from kidney or liver failure, then low protein diet is highly-recommended. In the case of liver of kidney disease, a low-protein dog food would be indicated to decrease the workload of these organs. Reducing the amount of protein in the dog food can help protect the organs from further damage.
FirstMate Small Bites Pacific Ocean Fish Formula Grain & Gluten Free Dry Dog Food - Senior/Weight Control (2 Sizes)
- Weight Management
Just like humans, obesity in dogs can be life-threatening. Health problems that are more common in obese canines include diabetes, pancreatitis, heart disease, hip dysplasia and other forms of joint disease. Once your veterinarian confirms that your dog needs to slim down, it's time to feed your dog weight management diet. A weight management diet is usually high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Higher amounts of protein can help burn calories and fat, helping to facilitate weight reduction.
- Senior Dog Food
Senior dogs typically need low-calorie diets to help prevent common health problems in seniors such as obesity. With a slower metabolic rate, senior dogs are more likely to become obese. High-fiber diets are important too as they help to improve gastrointestinal health.
- Sensitive Skin
If your canine friend is scratching and chewing at his skin all the time, chances are that he has sensitive skin. Sensitive skin problems can occur when your pooch has an adverse reaction to a certain food or substance. The symptoms of sensitive skin include redness, inflamed skin, constant scratching and hair loss. Excessive shedding, flaky skin and bald patches are other tell-tale signs that something is amiss with your pet’s skin. Other elements that can play a significant role in skin sensitivity include the environment, genes and parasites.
Hypoallergenic diets are made for dogs that experience food-related allergies causing adverse effects to their physical health. Food allergies in dogs are quite common but sometimes can be tricky to pin down to the specific ingredient that dogs might be allergic to. Fortunately, hypoallergenic dog foods can help simplify the process. The ingredients in a hypo-allergenic pet food exclude common allergens such as chicken protein, soya or wheat, thereby reducing the risk of an allergic reaction. Hypoallergenic diets usually contain a single protein source and a single carbohydrate source.